Earlier in June 2012 FIAPO tried to bust an multi-million dog fighting racket under powerful political patronage in the Punjab hinterland, with a Rs 10,000 reward for ‘information’! In this bid to perhaps stay relevant, or perhaps gain relevance, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) managed to do what most any kind of bungling would not do – it managed to shut down most all Facebook profiles and conversations on dog fights in the rural Punjab.
It was these very online communities that were being monitored and data maintained by some activists (names withheld on request) to build a case of these fights to be prevented and this racket busted at the beginning of winters (fight season) in the Punjab. We had earlier reported about a bust involving the seizure of just 1 dog in New Delhi where it was amply clear the amount of money & political and police patronage involved in this illegal activity.
In May 2012 a couple of FIAPO executive members started communicating with these animal activists in Punjab for more information. Since the investigations were far from complete only limited information could be pointed out to, mostly in the public domain.
Whether it was to gather the most news time, or just lack of insight into the reality of the situation, the FAIPO team decided to go to the press with the information that they had and FIAPO announced a Rs.10,000 reward for information on people involved in illegal dog fights.
FIAPO also filed a complaint with the Punjab and
Haryana police apart from announcing the monetary award for informants who can write to them at email@example.com! No people have come forwarded but has been reported that some stray dogs are seen at Internet parlors in the rural Punjab unsuccessfully trying to type in mails.
- The announcement was sent to the wires on 31 May 2012 via a release. The release said “FIAPO said it come across ‘horrendous’ pictures of dog fights in a ring in Haryana. These pictures were “very proudly” shared by an individual who is suspected to be a resident of Kotkapura in Punjab… on going through his Facebook profile in detail, it was believed that he was not only a viewer but also an active participant in this sort of activity”.
- FIAPO’s own website says that FIAPO campaign co-ordinator Alokparna Sengupta said “an animal lover forwarded them the Facebook link on May 28”.
- This reward was announced on 3 June 2012 in The Tribune, which reported Alokparna Sengupta, the federation’s campaign coordinator, say complaints have been lodged with IGP Jagdish K Mittal, Muhammad Akil, Haryana IGP, and Maj Gen (retd) RM Kharab, Chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India, against certain suspects and FIAPO has “demanded action against them”. No reference to any FIR is given.
It is clear from FIAPO’s own statements that their knowledge of the dog fighting ‘ring’ was from Facebook and/or other online communities and little/no primary investigation been carried out either by FIAPO directly on the ground over the last few months. ‘The Voice of Stray Dogs’ repeatedly tried to get FIAPO’s perceptive on how this reward got to be announced. FIAPO’s officers refused comment to mail on 5 June 2012 and 7th June 2012.
- We requested if they could confirm if they have any primary investigation or data – FIAPO refused to answer
- We checked when FIAPO officers knew that some other individuals/agencies were building a case to bring convictions and stopping this activity why was it then that FIAPO office members did not feel it necessary to take the people working on this in confidence about going public with this information – FIAPO refused to answer
- We checked whether FIAPO leadership really felt that a Rs 10,000 reward will overcome this multi-million dollar mafia with political patronage especially in the parochial hinterland of the Punjab – FIAPO refused to answer
- We checked who in FIAPO sanctioned this release of informaton and whether a case presented by FIAPO’s office holders to the FIAPO governing board requesting this release – FIAPO refused to answer
The result of the FIAPO reward announcement has been that most of the profiles were shut down within the day of the announcement of the reward in the newspapers. The investigators were building a database of license plates in pictures – and then determining vehicle ownership and addresses to build cases for convictions. At this time other than the few already downloaded pictures these profiles have vanished online. The one’s we’re publishing are with the acknowledgement and consent of the investigators) who have provided these to us. In some of the pictures available with us one can clearly see the dog fighter in police uniform (picture not being published)
It is interesting to note that FIAPO has announced awards earlier as well, but we could not ascertain that a single one has been claimed & information obtained leading to arrests and/or convictions. These FIAPO awards include:
- Rs 20,000 FIAPO reward for providing information leading to the arrest of those responsible of the killing if 2 dogs in Thane’s Ghodbunder Road, Vijay Vilas Society (December 2011)
- Rs 20,000 FIAPO reward for information on the person responsible for the spurt of cat killings in Versova (Nov 2011)
- Rs 10,000 FIAPO reward for information on stray dogs being killed in the Dombivli township of Maharashtra’s Thane district (June 2010)
Through an announcement like this while more people would get to know about the scourge of dog fighting but all it would do is make an underground activity of organization dog fight even more hush-hush.